A collective voice for literature and languages in Scotland

Saltire Literary Awards Announced

Professor of Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology Dame Sue Black has won the coveted 2018 Saltire Book of the Year award for a non-fiction book that explores the many faces of death as experienced through her more than three decades’ career in forensic science – a career which has taken her from investigating the scene of horrific war crimes committed in Kosovo to identifying victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in Thailand.

All That Remains: A Life in Death, which also won the Non-Fiction Book of the Year, is a gripping account of Black’s many encounters with mortal remains, whether in the laboratory, at burial sites, at murder scenes or when investigating mass fatalities due to war or natural disaster. She describes the book as being “as much about life as about death” and argues that, rather than being something to fear, death is something we should accept “as an integral and fundamentally necessary part of life’s process.”

Making their selection, the judges described the book as “curiously uplifting and life-affirming” and commented that “like all good memoirs”, it “reveals as much about the reader as the writer”.

Now firmly established as Scotland’s most prestigious annual book awards, the Saltire Literary Awards are supported by Creative Scotland and celebrate literary and academic excellence across six distinct Award categories. The winner of each individual book award wins a £2,000 cash prize and goes forward to be considered for the Saltire Book of the Year award and an accompanying cash prize of £6,000.

Dame Sue Black collected both awards at a special ceremony at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh on Friday evening (30 November 2018).

The winners of the five other book Awards announced as part of this year’s awards ceremony include Aberdeen-based Leila Aboulela’s short story collection and Fiction Book of the Year Elsewhere, Home which, through the experience of immigrants living abroad, examines the search for home in a fast-changing modern world.

Charting the writer’s personal experience of cancer treatment and recovery, becoming a widow at the age of 44 and taking on the social care system on behalf of elderly relatives, Jay Whittaker’s Wristwatch was named Saltire Scottish Poetry Book of the Year.

The award for Research Book of the Year went to Professor of English Literature and Book History at the University of Edinburgh Tom Mole for What the Victorians made of Romanticism, which considers how the popular media of the Victorian era sustained and transformed the reputations of Romantic writers.

2018 History Book of the Year is Islay-based writer and documentary maker Les Wilson’s The Drowned and the Saved, an extensively researched account of the sinking of US troopships Tuscania and Otranto off the coast of Islay in 1918, a tribute to those who died and an exploration of the huge impact of the disaster on survivors, rescuers and the local community.

Sal, the debut novel by Fife-based writer Mick Kitson and winner of the 2018 Saltire First Book Award, tells the story of 13-year-old Sal and her 10-year-old sister Peppa who seek to escape the abuse of their alcoholic mother’s boyfriend by running away into the Scottish wilderness.

Also announced at the awards ceremony was the winner of the 2018 Saltire Publisher of the Year Award with an accompanying cash prize of £1,000, which went to Edinburgh-based Canongate Books. Over the last 12 months, Canongate’s growth has seen them further develop an already strong international publishing brand. The Saltire Emerging Publisher of the Year Award went to Edinburgh-based Carolina Orloff of Charco Press in recognition of her development into an important part of publishing in Scotland in a relatively short time.

Marking 30 years since the Saltire Literary Awards’ First Book Award category was established in 1988, this year’s ceremony also included the presentation of a special award for “Most Inspiring Saltire First Book Award winner”. Chosen through a public vote from a shortlist also featuring Kate Clanchy, Jackie Kay, Michel Faber, A.L. Kennedy and Ali Smith, this special award went to Glasgow-based writer Louise Welsh. Louise Welsh won the Saltire First Book Award in 2002 for her debut crime novel The Cutting Room, which subsequently went on to win the 2003 Orange Prize for Fiction. Since then, she has written seven further novels, three plays and two short story collections as well as libretto for a number of touring opera productions.

Saltire Society Programme Director Sarah Mason commented: From poetry to publishing, fiction to academic studies, extending the length and breadth of the country and far beyond, this year’s Saltire Literary Awards are a testament to the outstanding calibre of modern Scottish literature in all its varied forms.  Every one of the individual awards was hotly contested, making the judges’ decisions particularly challenging.

My congratulations to all of the winners and my thanks to the judging panels, to all of our partners and supporters who have helped to make the 2018 Saltire Literary Awards such a resounding success.

Mairi Kidd, Interim Head of Literature, Languages & Publishing at Creative Scotland, said:Creative Scotland is delighted once again to be able to support the 2018 Saltire Literary Awards. These awards occupy a unique place in the Scottish literary landscape, recognising as they do Scottish literature and publishing in all its many and varied forms. Particular congratulations to Dame Sue Black on winning Saltire Book of the Year, to Louise Welsh on her special honour marking the 30th anniversary of the First Book Award and to all of the other individual category winners in what was another very competitive year. It is great to be able to celebrate and showcase the work of everyone shortlisted and, in so doing, hopefully to promote it to a new and wider audience.

The Saltire Literary Awards are made possible through the support of Creative Scotland, Literature Alliance Scotland, the National Library of Scotland, Publishing Scotland and the Scottish Historical Review Trust.

We were delighted to partner with Saltire Society on the networking element of the evening. See the full shortlist for each award category on the Saltire Society website.

 

December 3, 2018

ICYMI: Watch the #ThisIsIt2017 videos

If you didn’t make it to the Literary Cabaret 2017 on 23 November, or to watch the speakers again, here are the videos.

Please share your comments with us @LitScotland using #ThisIsIt2017.

Fiona Hyslop MSP, Scotland’s Culture Secretary opens the show.

“Words matter, writers matter…Scotland is a country of the word. You are guardians and nurturers of that word. You are creators of that word. Thank you.”

 

Francis Bickmore, Publishing Director of Canongate, on publishing:

“Novels are literally a crash-course in empathy…Books can not only make us care but they can also give us hope.”

 

Adrian Turpin, Artistic Director of Wigtown Book Festival on book festivals:

 

Pamela Tulloch, CEO of Scottish Library and Information Council on public and school libraries:

 

Award-winning poet William Letford on writers:

 

Best-selling author Louise Welsh on international perspective:

December 4, 2017

This is it! Scotland’s literary talent in the spotlight at cabaret event

Author Louise Welsh, poet William Letford (l) and Francis Bickmore of Canongate Books.

Best-selling author Louise Welsh and award-winning poet William Letford are set to headline an inaugural literary cabaret taking place this month, which shines a light on the nation’s literary scene in 2017.

The fast-paced, 90-minute show – called This Is It! –  will highlight the year’s literary happenings across five strands – publishing, book festivals, school and public libraries, writers, and the international perspective.

Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs will open this first public event from Literature Alliance Scotland (LAS) – the nation’s largest network of literature and languages organisations – on Wednesday 23 November from 7pm at Central Hall, Edinburgh.

Speakers include, respectively, Canongate Books’ Publishing Director Francis Bickmore, Adrian Turpin, Artistic Director of Wigtown Book Festival, and Pamela Tulloch, Chief Executive of Scottish Libraries Information Council (SLIC).

Poet William Letford, who hails from Stirling, will cover writer development and perform a reading of his poem This Is It from which the event takes its name.

Closing the show will be Glasgow-based author, Louise Welsh, who will speak about Scotland’s books and literature on the international stage as well as the importance of literary exchange between nations.

In addition, attendees will be able to browse and buy books from Scotland’s writers and publishers courtesy of Blackwell’s Bookshop, Edinburgh while librarians from South Lanarkshire’s digital library programme ‘ACTIVEe’ will be on hand to demonstrate 3D printers which are now available in all of Scotland’s public libraries.

Peggy Hughes, Chair of LAS said:

“With over 40 book festivals a year, ambitious new publishing houses such as 404ink emerging, stalwarts such as Birlinn celebrating 25 years, another Man Booker shortlisting for Ali Smith, Muriel Spark’s centenary on the horizon, not to mention the many, many Scottish books and authors that are going into the world every day and taking our stories and voices with them, it seemed high time that we take a moment to celebrate the wealth of our literature sector and shout about its cultural and social value.”

“At a time when Scotland’s Culture Strategy is being developed, it’s vital that we champion our sector and all the talented people working within and for it. Our literary cabaret is a chance for everyone with an interest in Scotland’s literature and book community to gather together and say, ‘This is it, this is a snapshot of what’s been happening this year’. It’s about carving out a space to celebrate the wonderful success, highlight the exciting potential and address the challenges. That’s why we’re so delighted that Fiona Hyslop is officially opening the event and giving this rich and vibrant sector the recognition it deserves.”

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:

“Scotland’s distinguished literary culture is a notable part of our national identity. It also attracts visitors to Scotland and raises our cultural profile around the world.

“I am pleased that the Literature Alliance Scotland is extending its reach beyond its membership of key individuals and agencies which promote writers and publishers to engage with the public.

“We are doing all we can to support the literary sector to ensure this rich legacy is maintained and strengthened in future years. We do this through for example our support for Creative Scotland, literacy, libraries, festivals, Book Week Scotland, the First Minister’s Reading Challenge and the post of Makar.”

Jenny Niven, Head of Literature, Languages & Publishing, Creative Scotland, said:

“We have a unique, distinctive and rich cultural asset in literature that not only makes an enormous impact to people’s lives in Scotland but also enhances our reputation internationally.  From poets to storytellers, screenwriters and playwrights the quantity and quality of writing being published here is truly inspiring. This is It! and Literature Alliance Scotland creates an important opportunity to bring together authors, publishers, libraries, festivals and literary organisations, and champion the work being done to make literature more visible to a greater number of people. We look forward to continuing this work with Scottish Government, partner agencies and individuals to create the best conditions to support a thriving literature and publishing sector in Scotland and internationally.”

This Is It! is hosted by Siân Bevan and tickets are £7 /£6 – https://this-is-it-literary-cabaret-2017.eventbrite.com/

-Ends-

Issued by JK Consultancy on behalf of Literature Alliance Scotland. For further information, please contact LAS Communications Officer Jenny Kumar on 07989 557198 / jenny@jkconsultancy.com

Notes to Editor

Literature Alliance Scotland, a membership organisation, represents the principal literature and languages organisations in Scotland, and is committed to advancing their interests at home and abroad. We exist to provide a strong, trusted collective voice on their behalf. Formed in Spring 2015, LAS is a successor to the Literature Forum for Scotland. For further information visit www.literaturealliancescotland.co.uk or follow us on Twitter: @LitScotland

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland, please visit www.creativescotland.com Follow us @creativescots and www.facebook.com/CreativeScotland

November 6, 2017
This is it! Scotland’s literary talent in the spotlight at cabaret event